By Wendy Pramik
Posted On: Nov 30, 2022
There's a castle in Ohio, one without moats, dragons, or damsels in distress. But it's become a favorite site for fairytale weddings and royally restful getaways.
Landoll's Mohican Castle, located in Loudonville and near Mohican State Park and Ohio's Amish Country, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It lies on a hilly, 30-acre property reachable by a winding road off Ashland County Rt. 629. In addition to the castle, there are three cottages and four guest suites that the family added in 2018, in a building that resembles a horse stable.
Guests can enjoy dinner at the Copper Mug Bar & Grille, which offers an upscale menu. The property also features an indoor swimming pool with a hot tub and sauna. Kids can have run in a game room, with pool, foosball, and a TV-watching area.
The attractively secluded property is also perfect for group meetings, with weddings one of the castle's specialties.
"We're really become a premier wedding venue, not only in the state of Ohio but in the country," said Jimmy Landoll, 36, who runs the operation with his mother, Marta. "We've had weddings of people from all over the world. Two years ago, we had a famous Hollywood producer get married on property."
The castle was the dream of Jimmy Landoll's father, Army veteran and children’s book publisher Jim Landoll.
At the heart of the property is the castle, featuring stone walls and wooden towers with pointy roofs. There's a winding staircase that leads to a lookout tower that provides a sweeping view of the wooded site. Inside are the sumptuous suites with vaulted ceilings, heated tile floors, cozy fireplaces, and lavish wooden beds.
Landoll served with the U.S. Army in Germany in the 1960s and explored castles during his free time. One day he vowed to build one of his own, using only pictures as his guide.
But first he became a successful children's-book publisher and raised eight children in Ashland. The Landoll Publishing Co. was at one time the largest printer and publisher of children's books in America. Jimmy took a publishing job right out of high school, too.
After selling the business, Jim Landoll built his castle one room at a time. He used wood from trees that had fallen on the property during a storm and made the flooring, trim, cabinetry, and doors. He used stones from piles constructed by early settlers.
Jimmy Landoll says the castle cost more than $6 million to build.
Jimmy and Jim Landoll
"It was a lot of fun growing up watching it change," he said. "Since the castle was built without blueprints, things changed quite often. My friends and I spent countless weekends playing hide-and-seek in the unfinished structure during those years."
Like any storied castle should, though, the luxury retreat has seen its share of drama.
A devastating fire in 2008, six years after the castle was opened to the public, took out a large section of the property and altered future business plans.
"We had a massive restaurant and gift shop and small event space that burnt down," Jimmy Landoll said. "It took many years to crawl out of this and in some ways, it still affects the business today."
The stress eventually took its toll on Marta and Jim, and they divorced, although they still own the business together and "get along great as business partners," Jimmy Landoll said.
Marta Louise Ballroom
The business model took an abrupt shift in 2016 after the castle was featured on Hotel Hell, a television series hosted by brimstone-breathing celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. The mercurial celebrity found a lot of room for improvement at the property and convinced the Landoll's that they should make use of the castle's beauty and pristine setting to make it a wedding venue.
Jimmy said he "knew very little about operating a hotel and restaurant" at the time. Ramsay's instruction was essential, even though parts of the episode "were exaggerated if not completely made up by the show."
"I think the experience with Gordon Ramsay was one of the biggest and most important moments in my career," Jimmy says. "When he came in it really motivated me and taught me many of the things that I needed to do to get to where we are today."
With more than 100 weddings a year, Landoll's Mohican Castle is now a prime event destination amid the central Ohio hills as well as being a one-of-a-kind getaway for couples and a fanciful playground for families.
More importantly, there's serenity under the stars in the semi-secluded location. A cemetery on the property draws visitors, who sometimes leave money and gifts on the graves.
Tours of the hotel are offered daily from April through October. The inn also hosts ghost walks, dinner parties, murder mysteries, and other public events. Kingdom of Lights, featuring thousands of lights adorning the castle grounds and weekend visits from Santa Clause, runs late November through Christmas Eve.
"Keep in mind, this wasn't designed by an architect. It was literally something that came out of my dad's head and evolved constantly as it was being built," Jimmy Landoll says. "Oftentimes, something would get built and he didn't like the way it looked or the feel of it and would change it and do something else. That's why the process took so long. It was important for him to get his vision done right."